Seagate Backup Plus Desktop external hard drive review: Top capacity, fast speed, friendly pricing

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The Seagate Dashboard backup software adds great value to this external hard drive. Dong Ngo/CNET

The Social feature allows you to share your media to social-networking sites, including Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube and, conversely, back up media from those sites to the portable drive. They are very straightforward and self-explanatory.

And finally, you can also back up content stored on your mobile device with the Mobile Backup function. You can do that with the Fast by using the free, downloadable Seagate Mobile Backup app that's available for both iOS and Android devices.

Additionally, you can also use the Seagate Dashboard to backup content to Seagate's Nero-based cloud backup service. The software does have a few minor shortcomings, however, including the fact that it only works with Seagate external hard drives and lacks the ability to keep multiple versions of backup. For this you need to use a different backup software, such as the WD SmartWare from Western Digital.

You don't need to use the included backup software at all to use the Backup Plus Desktop, but I personally find it very helpful for home users. What's not so helpful might be the included warranty, which is only good for two years. Many other external drives on the market carry a longer warranty period of three or even five years.

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The drive's underside comes with little ventilation holes to keep the internal drive from getting hot. Dong Ngo/CNET

Excellent performance

Five terabytes is a huge amount of storage space, but you can fill that up quite quickly thanks to the Backup Plus Desktop's performance. I tested it with USB 3.0 -- by the way, you should invest in this drive only if your computer supports USB 3.0 -- and it excelled with a sustained write-speed of more than 150Mbps and a read-speed of more than 180Mbps.

For a single-volume storage device, this is as fast as it gets. In fact, the drive, for now, is the fastest among traditional USB 3.0 external hard drives. There are a few faster ones on the market, but they all use special caching techniques, SSD storage, or a RAID 0 setup.

CNET Labs' USB 3.0 external drive performance

Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+
242.9
289.53
Seagate Backup FAST
222.5
232.74
Buffalo DriveStation DDR
215.5
216.78
Seagate Backup Plus Desktop
150.9
180.45
Toshiba Canvio Slim II
118.8
118.49
WD My Passport Ultra
118.5
117.87
LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt
92.29
112.23
Silicon Power Armor A15
113.0
112.09
Seagate Slim
110.4
111.49
LaCie Christofle Sphere
105.5
111.43
IoSafe Solo G3
109.1
110.98
Seagate Backup Plus
90.94
110.1
WD My Password Slim
107.7
107.89
Canvio Connect
97.4
97.1

Legend:

Write
Read

Note:

Measured in megabytes per second; longer bars indicate better performance.

The drive also works with USB 2.0, but with a much slower speed of around 30Mbps, which is about as fast as the USB 2.0 standard can offer.

The Backup Plus Desktop worked very quietly in my testing, and it doesn't generate any vibration at all, even during heavy loads. The drive also remained very cool.

Conclusion

With a massive amount of storage space and top performance, the Seagate Backup Plus Desktop external hard drive is an excellent choice for anyone who needs extra storage space. While most of us don't need anywhere near the drive's top capacity, having lots of storage space means you have enough room to keep multiple backups and even multiple versions of a backup set, which is a great way to keep your data safe, especially for those who have a lot of hot data. This way you won't lose data because of an accidental edit.

Note that this is a single-volume drive, and therefore it offers no redundancy. For this reason, it should not be used to store the only copy of your most important data. As a backup drive, however, it's a perfect fit.

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